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I Was The Only Woman In My Sexaholics Anonymous Meetings

Hi. My name is Janell and I am a recovering sex addict.

As Told To

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer. If you have a story you'd like to share but aren't sure about how to put it into words, contact us at submissions@xonecole.com with the subject "As Told To" for your story to be featured.

This is Janell's story, as told to Charmin Michelle.

Hi. My name is Janell and I am a recovering sex addict.

And I remember the exact conversation with my friend of 15+ years when she told me that she thought I was an addict at all. After she said it, I was so taken aback by the comment.

"You think so?" I asked, almost in disbelief.

"Definitely," she responded.

I'm very self-reflective, and naturally a very open person, so I called my best friend of 25+ years, gave her no context, and asked her the same question. She didn't hesitate to agree.

I knew at that moment, I had a problem.

Growing up, I don't remember ever really discovering sex. My earliest memory of anything sexual was my mom sitting me down to have "the talk" in the 1st or 2nd grade. I remember this girl in my fifth grade class telling one of the boys that she was horny and they would play truth or dare or hide-and-freak, all of which disgusted me. I can recall getting a letter from my elementary school crush that read "I want to make you say ughhhhhhhhh" and how dirty and embarrassed it made me feel.

I didn't start exploring sex until high school with my boyfriend at the time. Even though I was in love with him, I really only used him to spite my mother as a rebellious teenager. I went to a private Christian school my whole life, went to church, was saved and sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost. I attended an all women's college in the mountains of Virginia secluded from everything, including men (but I made sure to find them). From there, I went to law school in Baltimore, practiced law for a year, and eventually found my way back home in Atlanta.

I say all that to say, I probably look nothing like a sex addict—whatever that would be. But in hindsight, a combination of all the above is what ultimately led me down an ugly, unhealthy trail of promiscuity.

Wale said it best:

"But the problem is probably a deep past,

Still I'm feelin' of somethin' I need bad"

Anyway, as I got older, I became infatuated with the act of intercourse. I regularly collected f*ck buddies, and had lots of them. Somehow having someone that you could consistently bang, with no strings attached, made the idea of hoeing, less slutty. I would sex the same guy every day for extended periods of time, rinse and repeat. And I felt no shame in doing so.

Courtesy of Janell Henderson

I also never really chose my partners; intense sexual energy always seemed to find me. This is why I am now such a believer in the transference of energy, because most of my partners often struggled with sex addiciton too. I was always chosen and rarely took an active role in who I dated. Most times, I was just way too open to whomever came my way. This is not at all how I choose to date now, but then it was just too easy.

I was easy. *cringes in judgement*

Life came at me fast when about five or six months into the situation with one of my partners, his grandmother passed. I knew she had been sick because oftentimes when I went over to his house, he would be on the phone with family members discussing her health—though he and I never crossed that line and never had those types of discussions. One late night after the club, as I frequently would, I showed up at his job so we could go home together and have sex into the morning, as we always did. But this night he got a phone call and broke down crying. Not knowing what to do and being a woman, I offered to accompany him to see his dying grandmother, thinking surely he would turn me down. Mostly because a) he had just rejected the same offer from his best friend, who also was there during this call, and b) we were only f*ck buddies.

But shockingly, he accepted. So, I went to the hospital with him and sat by his grandmother's dying bedside for two days.

When we left the hospital, I was relieved to go back to our normal routines. I knew he was supposed to go to work the next day but because I was concerned that he hadn't slept in a few days, I reached out—something that we just didn't do before. I didn't get an answer so I immediately thought that something was wrong and decided to stop by his house to check on him. And chiilllddddd…he was there, in his room, loud as hell, and having sex with someone else. I was livid. But here's the wild part: it wasn't because I had feelings for him, or had fallen for him after a family tragedy like a damn Tyler Perry movie.

I realized I was only upset because in that moment, it wasn't me that was having sex. It was time to seek help.

Since I Google everything, I took a shot and googled "sex addiction". Lo and behold, Sexaholics Anonymous popped right up—and it was free, just as Alcoholics Anonymous or Debt Anonymous would be. I thought to myself, Who can beat free help? I had been to therapy before, and I knew how draining the process of finding a therapist could be: from finding one you actually want to commit to, to availability and money. These all slow the rehabilitation process down. SA gave me quick access to help and it seemed like a quick fix, so I signed up immediately. I literally was in class three or four days later.

SA was very similar to AA. You go around the room, share a little about yourself—without disclosing too much. The group leader, who I actually recognized because I'd see him out on occasion (go figure), would read an excerpt from the SA tenant book and then ask us to speak about how it made us feel, or if we could relate. I was the only woman in my tenant sessions, which didn't bother me at all. Women tend to behave more harshly towards women when it comes to sex. Most men could care less. In fact, every man who knew found it eerily attractive and I knew that, so I was comfortable.

It felt like home to be honest.

But for once, I wasn't there for the men. I was there for me; and furthermore, none of these men were the type of men I would have ever slept with. Even though admittedly my picking was lax, I was well aware that certain settings guaranteed all my partners were college educated, employed and regularly went to the gym. But in SA, I was laser-focused and being the only woman never even crossed my mind.

By our second meeting, a light bulb went off as clear as day and I got all the answers I was looking for. I attended one more session, collected my thoughts, and began focusing on evolving towards a higher purpose. I haven't attended SA since.

Ultimately, what I learned is an addiction is an addiction.

And most people—whether they can admit it or not—to some degree, have been addicted to something in their lifetime. All negative behaviors have a trigger, and to fix those negative behaviors, you have to identify and know your triggers to be able to recognize and avoid repeated cycles. What you feed on, will ultimately devour you in the end. Not only did I have sex every single day, I was around sexual energy all the time. I went to strip clubs regularly, listened to sexual music, talked about sex constantly; my friends would come to me with all their sex questions. It was sort of like I had become this trained expert. Don't get me wrong, sex was my favorite conversation to have, but my life unbeknownst to me, had a lot of sex in it. I was constantly feeding my addiction and it took me years to escape that mentality and lifestyle.

Today, I feel free. I haven't have sex in almost a year (I lost track of how long), I actively and intentionally decide to be abstinent, and no longer date. The adjustments were difficult but the lesson of learning what to feed my spirit, curbed my appetite. Instead of the radio or music, I choose to listen to sermons on YouTube or business podcasts. I unfollowed anyone on Instagram who casually talked about sex—including many of my favorite celebs. I became much more intentional about what I watch or where I go.

Courtesy of Janell Henderson

Sure, SA didn't stop me from having sex altogether, but it did give me the tools to recognize unhealthy behaviours and patterns to make more responsible decisions. And remember, these are triggers for me, so my adjustments were in response to what triggers me. And they may seem extreme, but when you have an addiction, you have to be extreme.

So. Any regrets? Of course not.

I don't live with regrets. If that's the case, I would definitely lived differently altogether, if given the chance. But we are only given one life, and my goal is to move forward making women feel superior through transformation, alignment and manifestation. I built a business on helping women feel beautiful through thrifted-only clothes—primarily because I used to thrive in superficial, high-end environments. But now, I can honestly say I feel most triumphant when I am having conversations with God in my journal, writing affirmations, visualizing my future, and reading and meditating on the Bible.

Self-love and admiration is purely in the eye of the beholder. Read that again, guys, it's important: Self-love and admiration is purely in the eye of the beholder.

And for me, the only difference between then and now, is from what source I pulled it from.

If you think you have a sex addiction and need help, you can join your local Sexaholics Anonymous meetings. You can also follow Janell on Instagram here to keep up with her journey.

Featured image courtesy of Janell Henderson

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

Lawd, lawd. I'm assuming that I'm not being too presumptuous when I start this all out by saying, I'm pretty sure that more than just a few of us can relate to this title and topic. I know that personally, there are several men from my sexual past who would've been out of my space a lot sooner had the sex not been…shoot, so damn good. And it's because of that very thing that you'll never ever convince me that sex can't mess with your head. The oxytocin highs (that happen when we kiss, cuddle and orgasm) alone can easily explain why a lot of us will make a sexual connection with someone and stay involved with them for weeks, months, years even, even if the mental and emotional dynamic is subpar, at best.

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